The Dark Horses

Politics makes for strange bedfellows. In the current political circus, who knows what a Naveen Patnaik, KCR, Kejriwal or a Maya may have to offer to the Indian electorate.


Indian polity has seen emergence of various regional satraps & some not so known faces, come out of the shadows of their long & illustrious careers in their backyards & have risen to hold the highest post of a Prime Minister in our Parliamentary democracy. From Charan Singh to Chandrasekhar, Inderjit Gujral, VP Singh, Morarji Bhai, Deve Gowda, most of these were either strong chieftains back home or they had very steadily grown up the ladder with their meticulous approach & by adopting the policy of rapprochement with their mentors, colleagues & even adversaries. India of today is on the cusp of a watershed election year 2019 that can throw up a surprise pick for the PM post from nowhere & yet long after the event is over, we would be analysing how something like this happened. The time for a dark horse to emerge from somewhere is around on the political horizon.

Let us look at the various options that could have a potential say in the formation of the next government at the centre. I am too intrigued by how Naveen Patnaik & BJD has kept most of its cards close to its chest in the run up to 2019. As four time CM of Odisha Mr. Patnaik has shown the same charisma, commitment & resolve that his father late Biju Patnaik had displayed during his political career.  With 20 out of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in his bag after 2014, he has himself expressed optimism about his party playing a more pro active role at the national level. Going by the current indications & despite the odds stacked against him on account of farmer distress & anti – incumbency, Naveen Patnaik has the charm & Character to catapult his party BJD back to power a record 5th time & possibly retain most of the Lok Sabha Seats too.

KCR on the other hand has always been consistent about wanting to play meaningful roles in national politics. Having cemented his place & established his writ over then state politics, he is now fixated to a stellar opportunity that beckons him in Delhi. Anointing his son to the Party president’s post is indication enough that he does not want to lag behind in his manoeuvres in the run up to 2019 elections. His slew of meetings with Naveen Babu, Mamta, Naidu & Kejriwal have further cleared any stagnant doubts about his intentions to play a matchmaker or a kingmaker if not the king himself post 2019 results.

With 88 out of 119 assembly seats in the 2018 assembly elections in his kitty & a probable 15 out of 17 Lok Sabha seats almost guaranteed in 2019 polls, KCR may well be the man of the moment. With his charismatic persona & a proven track record of anticipating the future as he did in Telangana polls, he could perhaps have few more tricks up his sleeve & he may have kept those for the big D day. Let us wait & watch

The other dark horse to me is going to Arvind Kejriwal. Notwithstanding his party’s poor statistic of a nil in the current Lok Sabha, his party AAP has been seen making rapid strides in Delhi in the field of education, health care, door strep delivery, electricity & water supply management. The downside though is his non pan India appeal & lack of clarity in political thoughts making one wonder if he could ever make the cut of a bigger leader. He & AAP have enjoyed some clout amongst small traders, young professionals & lower class electorate. Come 2019, he may well make for the losses of 2014 to rebound & take his fair share of 3-4 seats if not more. I must hasten to add that the selection of candidates, party manifesto & his assessment of the poll machinations shall have a wide bearing on whether or not he makes any in roads onto the very strong & dedicated BJP stronghold. Time alone will tell. For the time being he is the party pooper & an irritant for the BJP.

Over to UP & you need not be a rocket scientist to predict which way the wind is blowing. BJP & Yogi Adityanath may have done himself a great favour by reclaiming the most important state as far as Lok Sabha polls of 2014 are concerned, the disenchantment within Muslims, OBCs, Dalits, marginalised & lower middle class Brahmins is palpable. Some section of the urban elite who would though not have bothered about a Ram Rajya would also be peeved at the manner BJP & its affiliates have gone about re-building Hindu pride & trust & the way it has handled the Ram Temple issue. The situation of 2019 is diametrically opposite to that of 2019. In a span of 5 years what began as a great resurgence of the saffron party, it has gradually started to fade under the burgeoning expectations of the government. The Hindu Muslim divide, clamp down on Madrassas & Muslim a/clergy administered schools, cow vigilantism, lynching, Beef business etc all have spread the anger & fanned anti Yogi Sentiments far & wide. Their handling of the MLA accused of rape & murder, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Bulandshahar (where SSHO was killed in gunfire), large scale killings of criminals, some in alleged fake encounters, all of these shall have severe consequences for the BJP’s chances in 2019. Add the by- poll reverses & you have a perfect pot boiler of sorts.

In such a scenario, the duo of Maya & Akhilesh would have more to gain than lose. From The 80 odd seats to Parliament, BJP had bagged 70 of these riding on a strong MODI wave & the ill conceived alliance of Congress & SP. This time around, hopefully both the regional contenders would have smarted from their mistakes & expectedly do better on seat sharing & stitching up pre-poll alliances to snatch back from BJP the maximum number of seats in the most significant of the Hindu Heartland states. My guess is that it would be a 40 : 40 for the ruling dispensation & the rest of the opposition alliance.  That is going to be a huge dampener of sorts for Modi’s chance of making the cut, with 3 of the other major bastions having already fallen to the Congress.

So ladies & gentlemen, all political pundits & psephologists, brace up for the most significant election results ever to be anticipated with such anxiety & curiosity ever; Till then fingers crossed & prayer for peace, brotherhood & amity on our lips & in our hearts.